Abu Dhabi has announced the launch of a new visa counter to facilitate the visa application process and grant both transit and arriving passengers visas within 15 to 30 minutes.
The new service, located at the Terminal 3 transit area at Abu Dhabi International Airport includes issuance of the new four-day, or 96-hour, transit visa to visitors of all nationalities travelling through the Abu Dhabi International Airport, Gulf News reported.
The announcement was made by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Airports, Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs.
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The launch of the new visa counter is part of the ‘Life in Abu Dhabi’ initiative, in support of the Enriching Tourist Experience. Established in May 2017 as part of the Government Services Office at Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Life in Abu Dhabi is an annual gathering aimed at developing a number of public sector services for the government of Abu Dhabi.
The new counter will issue several types of mission and tourist visas available to travellers who do not fall under the current visa upon arrival scheme. Passengers can now approach the visa counter in Terminal 3 to apply for, and obtain the relevant visa within 30 minutes.
In addition, the visa counter is now issuing the new 96-hour transit visa, which is a key part of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing efforts to attract more visitors to the capital. This project is being jointly implemented by several parties including the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Abu Dhabi Airports, General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs — Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways and Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi.
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The visa, which costs Dh300, can be used by passengers with planned trips from Abu Dhabi, or with intermediate flights through Abu Dhabi en route to their destination if their layover exceeds four hours. The transit visa can be applied for both at the new visa counter on arrival, or through the online designated portal, provided passengers meet the application criteria. Travellers can also request to change their transit visa to a tourist visa at the airport if they are planning to extend their stay in the capital.
Brigadier Mansour Ahmad Ali Al Daheri, director general of residency and foreigners affairs, said his department had facilitated the registration process for tourism companies and held several workshops for companies and entities working in the tourism sector.
He said: “The launch of the new entry visa system strengthens the country’s efforts to maintain its regional leadership and position on the global map in the fields of tourism, economy and education.”
Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, acting chief executive officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “The 96-hour visa will be instrumental to attract the large number of transfer passengers to experience Abu Dhabi and its vast offerings during their stopover.”
Saif Saeed Gobash, director general, department of culture and tourism, said, “The visa counter at AUH will further enhance the tourist experience when visiting Abu Dhabi. In addition, the newly launched 96-hour transit visa will facilitate the passenger experience of over 15 million (as per 2016 numbers) travellers who transfer through our airport every year. We can now process their requests for a transit visa in just 30 minutes.”
The move is expected to drive an increase in the number of hotel guests from around the world to all three regions of Abu Dhabi. October 2017 figures revealed an 18 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared to the same month last year, with 418,883 domestic and international visitors checking in to one of the Emirate’s 163 hotels or hotel apartments. October’s rise has maintained the Emirate’s eight per cent increase over the year in terms of the numbers of hotel guests, and this number is on track to surpass the 2016 total of 4.4 million guests.